The Polarization of Leadership

When I was a kid, I was a people pleaser. I don’t need to get into detail here but as you might imagine, life up until that point had taught me something — that to fit in, demonstrate my value, and make a positive difference, I would have to learn where people had needs, and then support them… help them get those needs met. For me, it was an early version of what Dale Carnegie talks about in his incredibly successful book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

As I got older I learned something else… that there are no silver bullets… no perfect instruments or solutions. Like all points of view — all mental frameworks — there are upper limits. I learned — as perhaps others here have as well — you can’t please all the people all the time.

And that’s where we get to the real value for today — the lesson that, for me, has made all the difference.

Leadership is polarizing. And let me just briefly say that if you’re on this screen right now, I am relating to you as a leader. Because in simplest terms, I expect that you are looking to grow in your business, likely even in your life… take on more clients or customers, and expand in your level of responsibility, success, and impact.

By it’s very nature, to lead, to break away from the herd in service of making a real, noticeable difference… whether it’s in your business, your organization, your community, your family, anywhere… is polarizing.

When we stand up, and distinguish ourselves from the pack… when we open our mouths, share our truth, even share our vision of our goals and the possible future we see for ourselves and those around us… it creates ripples.

Some people are going to celebrate you. They will come closer, lean in, even join you and become your champion.

But remember Newton’s Third Law… that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And so, for all of the people that you may draw in, all of the winds you may gather at your back… be ready for a few that will blow in your face, and try to impede your progress. I’m not saying that they will necessarily be other people, or even conscious forces. Sometimes it just seems that when we get going and grow up into our next level, challenges and circumstances can mysteriously show up.

As you rise in your success and your leadership, and you magnetize people and possibility to join you, others may criticize, complain, reject, and in it’s extreme, sometimes even hate you. Look at the greatest leaders in our history. They have been both deeply loved and deeply hated.

Misery loves company and people inherently resist change. Mostly because they get scared and become more present to the costs than the benefits.

So what can we do? Do we stop leading? Succeeding? Growing? Thriving?

Hell no!

But, we need to get past our level of surprise. We need to remember that principle of physics. We need to expect that the higher we climb and the larger we get, the stronger the potential for resistance… both inside our own selves (impostor syndrome, etc), and sometimes within those around us.

So just like you were taught at camp, or the local pool, or wherever… never swim alone. Martial your resources. Find and create support structures.

And obviously, you are either woven into, or in the presence of, one of the greatest ones there is… Elevate.

Because we are all doing our best to rise.

So yes, of course, ask for and give referrals. Pass business. Provide your knowledge and experience and help your fellow members in the conventional ways we know how.

But also remember that we are all in this together. And if on the way up, your leadership load gets heavy, don’t keep it to yourself.

Whether you need actual therapeutic support from Carmela, or some form of Coaching, that’s available.

But there is also always the camaraderie and the knowledge that none of us is here alone.

We have all felt, and continue to feel at times, the challenges of our growth — growing pains, if you will.

And there are scores of us able to show up and say, “yeah me too.”

Here’s to community, to strength, and to common ground.

Here’s to rising together. Here’s to Elevate.

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